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9 best PS5 games for every kind of player, from ‘Astro’s Playroom’ to ‘Demon’s Souls’

Bagged Sony’s new console but don’t know what to play? We’ve got your back

Steve Hogarty
Tuesday 18 May 2021 11:10
<p>The PS5’s library of games is small but growing quickly</p>

The PS5’s library of games is small but growing quickly

The PlayStation 5 is less than a year old, but in that time it’s already amassed a small collection of must-play exclusives. But for the most part – and thanks to the console’s excellent backwards compatibility with previous-generation titles – most of the best games on PS5 right now also happen to be the best games on PS4.

While your existing collection of PS4 games won’t look any better running on PS5, a handful of classic PS4 games, such as God of War and Control, have been specially adapted for the new console to improve their performance, loading times and visuals. Some PS4 games will run at slightly improved frame rates, but don’t expect to see an enormous difference.

That said, if you’re upgrading from the base PS4, the enhancements on PS5 are way more noticeable. Any games in your collection that were developed to run on the mid-generation PS4 pro will receive an automatic facelift and run at a super sharp 4K on your shiny new console.

We’ve put together a list of the best new PS5 games to suit players of all tastes, from couch co-op platformers like Sackboy: A Big Adventure, to sprawling, open-world action in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. We’ve focused on games you can only play on PS5, but we’ve also included a few multi-platform and previous-generation titles that shine on Sony’s latest console. For more recommendations, take a look at the best PS4 games.

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We’ll continue to add new entries to this list as the PS5’s library of games grows. It’s early days for Sony’s new console, and the pandemic delayed production of a number of big-budget titles on both PlayStation and Xbox. As the industry returns to normal we expect to see some big PS5 announcements and game launches in the second half of 2021 and beyond. Sony also promises an update to PlayStation VR on PS5 by 2022.

If you don’t know where to buy the new PS5, keep an eye on our PS5 stock checker page, where we track the biggest online retailers to find new consoles as they arrive.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best PS5 games in 2021 are:

  • Best free PS5 gameAstro’s Playroom: Free,
  • Best action gameMarvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales: £49.99,
  • Best action RPG Demon’s Souls: £57.99,
  • Best open-world adventureAssassin’s Creed Valhalla: £44.99,
  • Best horror gameResident Evil Village: £48,
  • Best stealth game Hitman 3: £48.99,
  • Best roleplaying gameYakuza: Like A Dragon: £42.99,
  • Best co-op multiplayer gameSackboy: A Big Adventure: £47,
  • Best third-person shooterControl: Ultimate Edition: £32.99,

‘Astro’s Playroom'

Best: Free PS5 game

Release date: 12 November 2020

Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Don’t be fooled into thinking Astro’s Playroom is a demo with ideas above its station. Coming pre-installed for free on every PS5, this imaginative platformer is a nostalgia-drenched adventure through PlayStation history, from the demo CD bundled with the original PS1 to modern classics of the PS4 era.

A love letter to a 27-year legacy, Astro’s Playroom serves as both an introduction to the features of the PS5’s tactile new DualSense controller, as well as an old-school, full-featured and inventive platformer in its own right.

‘Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales'

Best: Action game

Release date: 12 November 2020

Developer: Insomniac Games

One way to improve Spider-Man? Ditch Peter Parker and replace him with his awkward teenage protégé, Miles Morales. Insomniac’s 2018 game broke a long-standing series curse by being very good indeed: an open-world action adventure that made you feel, emphatically, like you were web-slinging between skyscrapers and thwacking crooks.

A next-generation spin-off, Spider-Man: Miles Morales refines the original’s formula. This is a streamlined adventure with a more focused story, far less busy work and an endearingly clumsy protagonist still getting to grips with his powers. The city looks stunning too, dressed up in fancy modern ray-tracing effects that make the real world seem unacceptably bleak.

‘Demon’s Souls'

Best: Action RPG

Release date: 12 November 2020

Developer: From Software

A complete remake of From Software’s infamously punishing action RPG, Demon’s Souls on PS5 is a showcase of what the new console is capable of. The oppressive gothic architecture, yawning arches and festering dungeons of this cult classic look spectacular on the new hardware, while remaining faultlessly faithful to the aesthetic and vibe of the original game.

Challenging to the point of repelling new players, Demon’s Souls gets away with it by being as rewarding as it is difficult to master. Once it clicks, and so long as you don’t hurl your DualSense controller out of the nearest window, you unlock an enormously gratifying adventure through a dark fantasy world.

‘Hitman 3'

Best: Stealth game

Release date: 20 January 2021

Developer: IO Interactive

A freestyle assassination game in which you can approach your target however you please, Hitman 3 plays out like an elaborate, Groundhog Day-style puzzle. Though there are only a handful of levels, each one is an interactive play with an enormous cast of wandering characters who react to your actions.

You might be infiltrating the upper floors of a Dubai skyscraper dressed as a janitor in one mission, and disguising yourself as the detective investigating an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery in the next. There are hundreds of ways to reach your objectives, and Hitman 3 invites and rewards the player’s experimentation.

‘Assassin’s Creed Valhalla'

Best: Open-world adventure

Release date: 10 November 2020

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Set in the 9th century during the Viking invasion of Britain, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has you cavorting about the unspoilt English countryside bothering Anglo-Saxons and pillaging unsuspecting monasteries. There’s a vast amount to see and do, from managing your growing settlement to raiding towns and lopping the heads off local kings.

Also launched for the last-generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, Ubisoft’s open-world adventure looks stunning on PlayStation 5, with richly detailed environments, higher resolutions, upgraded lighting effects and even bloodier decapitations.

‘Resident Evil Village'

Best: Horror game

Release date: 18 April 2021

Developer: Capcom

The latest entry in the long-running survival horror series, Resident Evil Village further departs from its old-school zombie heritage and continues in the vein of the immersive, first-person horror experience that made Resident Evil 7 such a huge success.

Set in a fictional Romanian village overrun by a bunch of absolute creeps, the game is part Island of Doctor Moreau, part What We Do In The Shadows, and part abandoned ghost train at a local amusement park that had to be shut down over safety concerns. The ever-present threat of the game’s nightmarish cast of vampires, werewolves and monsters that resemble the contents of a butcher’s wheelie bin make for a claustrophobic and thrilling adventure.

‘Yakuza: Like A Dragon'

Best: Roleplaying game

Release date: 2 March 2021

Developer: Sega

Yakuza: Like A Dragon is the most approachable entry in the series so far, ditching one long-running protagonist in favour of an entirely new – and even weirder – cast of characters. Set in a fictional Tokyo prefecture, it follows the story of a low-level gang member sent to prison for 18 years who attempts to reintegrate into a modern criminal lifestyle following his release.

Like A Dragon is a blend of turn-based street fighting, weird mini-games and goofy, dialogue-heavy roleplaying in which you’re throwing bicycles at drunk businessmen one moment and carrying out missions for a gang of nappy-wearing adult babies the next. It defies summary. Knowingly strange and wantonly convoluted, there really isn’t any other game like it.

‘Sackboy: A Big Adventure'

Best: Co-op multiplayer game

Release date: 12 November 2020

Developer: Sumo Digital

Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a kid-friendly platformer set in a meticulous, handcrafted world of corrugated cardboard, fuzzy felt patches and hot-glued buttons, as though you’ve just been plunged headfirst into an arts and crafts box by a ruthless assailant.

A magical co-op adventure for up to four players, Sackboy is best played with a buddy or three, where you can either work together to pummel enemies and solve each level’s series of pleasingly designed puzzles, or be a nuisance by hurling random bits of furniture at your friends. Joyously soundtracked and with a surprising cast of celebrity voices, Sackboy is gloriously fun no matter how you choose to play it.

‘Control: Ultimate Edition'

Best: Third-person shooter

Release date: 27 August 2020

Developer: Remedy

A third-person shooter set in a paranormal world that could have slithered from the dreams of a napping David Lynch, Control: Ultimate Edition is set entirely within the confines of the headquarters of an off-books government organisation, tasked with investigating everyday objects that have gained supernatural powers.

The bureaucratic backdrop of grey cubicles, copy machines and filing cabinets serves to compound all of the interdimensional weirdness going on. In combat, furniture and chunks of debris become kinetic, hurled around by psychic forces in an impressive demonstration of particle physics, which are further enhanced by the PS5’s crisp 4K resolution and smooth frame rates.

PlayStation 5 FAQs

Can you play PS4 games on PS5?

Yes. With a handful of exceptions, almost every PS4 game in your collection will work on PS5. If you’ve purchased and downloaded digital versions of PS4 games in the past, these can be redownloaded on PS5 and added to your library. If you own physical copies of PS4 games, these will work with the standard PS5 but not the PS5 digital edition, as this version of the console doesn’t have a disc drive.

Most games will run the same on PS5 as they did on the PS4 pro, so besides a more stable frame rate you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference. However, when there’s a PS5 version of a PS4 game you own, you might be offered a free upgrade after inserting the disc or redownloading. This is true for games like Spider-Man, God of War and eventually Cyberpunk 2077, but other developers may still charge PS4 players to upgrade to the PS5 version.

The verdict: Best PS5 game

If you’ve been a PlayStation fan since the early days, then we can’t recommend Astro’s Playroom enough. It’s an explosively fun (and free) platformer that charts a course through PlayStation history while celebrating the new console’s best features.

For something more contemporary, check out Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It effortlessly captures the free-flowing movement style of the web-slinging superhero, opening up an entire city’s worth of action in a package that’s slick, stylish and looks gorgeous on PS5.

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